Dr Priscilla Prestes

Research Fellow, Health Innovation and Transformation Centre
Federation University, Ballarat, Australia

What is your role at your work?

I am a postdoctoral researcher studying genetic and epigenetic changes in cardiovascular diseases, mainly hypertension and hypertrophic hearts. I am also coordinating an intervention study in chronic diseases combining genetic risk scores, behaviour change and digital interventions.

How did you get interested in your career path?

My mother was a science teacher and my parents encouraged me to become anything I wanted. The human genome was being sequenced while I was an undergraduate and I was fascinated by genetics. I ended up doing a Masters in Genetics and Molecular Biology before moving to Australia and pursuing a PhD.

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?

In my career, I am proud for being the only student to be awarded a Victoria Fellowship in 2020. In my life, I am proud for leaving my country and building a career away from my family and in a different language and I hope that will make me a role model for my kids.

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Earlier in my career, it was starting over in a new research field. I listened attentively anytime anyone would want to talk to me about it. Most recently, regaining momentum after maternity leave and managing career while wanting to be present for my children. I had to accept that I cannot do everything, and a support network is essential.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Have the bigger picture in mind and break objectives into smaller and achievable tasks.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications (3-5) – if relevant to you.

We have just submitted a comprehensive article on lifestyle recommendations for hypertension management.
Charchar FC, Prestes PR, et al. Lifestyle Management of Hypertension: International Society of Hypertension Position Paper endorsed by the World Hypertension League and European Society of Hypertension. J Hypertens

Eales JM, …, Prestes PR, et al (2021). Uncovering novel genetic mechanisms of hypertension through multi-omic analysis of the kidney. Nat Genet, 53:630-637.

Prestes PR, et al (2020). A guide to the short, long and circular RNAs in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Int J Mol Sci, 21:3666.

Jiang X, …, Prestes PR et al (2020). Hypertension and renin-angiotensin system blockers are not associated with expression of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the kidney. Eur Heart J, 41:4580-4588.

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.

My mentors were and are extremely important to my personal, professional, and scientific development. They have been supporting and guiding me through my career progression and ambitions.

How can we support the next generation of women scientists?

We need to acknowledge that career paths are very different and find ways to support everyone’s trajectories. Also, providing opportunities for women to participate in varied roles and promoting equality at all levels and positions.